Changing Your Life

Living On Less

We never planned on becoming minimalists. We just wanted to declutter and get rid of things we had stuffed into corners, closets, under beds, and jammed into the garage. There were boxes of things we hadn’t seen in years. How important could the stuff be? Without telling the girls, I started going through a box each week and culling the few items that seemed slightly necessary.

Our daughters weren’t the best packers. I encountered ghosts from the past like haunted homework, tiny shoes, stuffed animals that must have been multiplying in the dark, and scary dirty plates, knives and spoons. I found books and movies we had bought second copies of! I tossed each week until one of our garbage cans was full. Oh, the horror!

What was left went into the girl’s rooms so they could relive the glory of owning it. For the most part, they went, “Oh, cool,” and put it in a corner. Still, killing-off the boxes was excellent. I felt invigorated. Really.

Then I started on the good stuff, Mom and Dad’s junk. We’d packed better, but after a year without it, what was the point of having it? Off to the Salvation Army. Every Saturday.

It wasn’t as tough to disassociate ourselves from what we had lovingly packed as you might think. I sold my grandmother’s china on eBay that I’d been lugging around for 20 years . I sold the bars of silver I’d bought against inflation at the same time, along with magazines I’d treasured and moved half a dozen times. I could see the floor of the garage! That was a rush.

Eventually, the garage looked like this:

And we didn’t stop there. We called friends and asked if they wanted our furniture. Whatever they turned down, we listed on Craig’s List. It took two months, but eventually, we were down to half of what we’d started with. We told our daughters they could choose three boxes of items to ship to Hawaii. Their rooms looked like this:

After the main things went away, we enlisted our friends to help with a garage sale, and whatever didn’t sell went to local charities. During our last few weeks, we were sending things to “General Delivery” (since we didn’t have a home yet) in Pahoa, HI, and hoping we would be there before it arrived. I packed our truck’s bed twice to get the 20 large boxes on their way.

That left us with the heavy stuff. The oversized items stayed, and the small items got shipped in those USPS Flat Rate boxes. Again, there were about 20, and they had everything from shop and hand tools to breakable momentos.

The final count was ten boxes at $15, ten at $23, ten at about $50, and ten that ran as high as $168 for a 3×5 foot David Wyland painting. $1700 total. We’d done great getting down from a shipping container of stuff, and the cash we got from selling the excess paid the shipping costs. The post office workers in Fountain Hills didn’t mind too much. Those in Pahoa were probably both confused and annoyed – but they never showed it when we picked the boxes up. So nice!

There was also the car situation. We had a new Toyota Tundra that we were leasing, and I had to take it back to the dealer and default on the loan because I’m a terrible person. We shipped the other one via Pasha Hawaii – for about $1400 and they picked it up at home in Arizona.   

We were so happy to arrive in Hilo, HI and visit Dad and start searching our list of possible homes. Did I mention that it rains in Hilo? People avoid Seattle, WA because it gets about 37 inches of rain a year. Hilo gets 130. No kidding.

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